I feel fortunate to have learnt from many great leaders, in some cases by working closely with them, others I have admired from afar. Several are dynamic and inspirational, a few are not! Those who personally stir and inspire me are not necessarily the men and women who can boast purely bottom line success, but the leaders who do that and in addition, take the time and trouble to focus on succession planning. The cornerstone of good succession planning is identifying and then developing the next wave of leaders.
Once they have been identified (for their passion and attitude, not just their aptitude), the leaders of tomorrow need to be given the opportunity to see their strengths. They should be shown how they can leverage them for personal development and the good of the company. Having worked with many successful leaders in their succession planning over the years, I have conceptualised and developed a unique foundation for succession planning that I term a personal balance sheet. If an individual is viewed and evaluated in terms of their personal equity, and given the chance to grow, they can contribute to the overall value of the business.
Having a once-off inspirational leadership talk is well and good, but people leave buoyed up, but, when the reality of going back to the same job kicks in, often they lose the momentum because of a lack of support. They need a plan, plus good direction. For overall success, succession planning needs to have strong foundation and most importantly, sustainability. To have a once-off leadership talk for your team is like a drop in the ocean. To institute an ongoing programme that starts with an introductory level (year one), then takes them to an intermediate stage and finally exposes them into the realities of executive leadership, is surely the only way to go?
My Raise your Leaders™ in-house academy for leadership development has been rewarding and, like leadership should be, a two-way street. For a delegate to stand up at the end of the first day of his leadership training and announce to his colleagues that he has experienced something for the first time, self-belief, and to then say that he is leaving armed with the necessary skills to develop himself, one realises that sustainability should really be self-sustainability. Whilst it is up to the employer to offer growth and opportunity, it is actually up to the employee to be self-directed in their learning. How does one inspire this? By outlining the benefits of their personal development to them, unleashing their strengths, and then ultimately helping them to see their purpose in their work. Once an employee knows where they fit in and how their contribution impacts on the overall company, they take better ownership of their role and become more motivated.
When the same delegate came to me at the end of his second day, as I was signing his personal copy of Raise your Leaders™, he quietly announced that his life had changed; he would never look at himself in the same way again. It was then that I knew that I had realised my own purpose – to help others see their potential, and to inspire them to develop it.
Cream always rises to the top. Surely it is the responsibility of the leader to start stirring?
Published September 2013